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April 12, 2017

WWE Superstar Shakeup: List of roster changes to SmackDown and Raw

With the WWE Superstar Shakeup now seemingly complete, the only thing left is to take a look at the roster moves and determine where the brands stand going forward.

Considering it was not a “draft” and WWE noted that all superstar changes would occur via trades, deals and other moves between the Raw and SmackDown Live brands, one would have expected some explanations about how every new wrestler wound up on his or her respective new show.


Instead, WWE simply had these superstars appear on Raw and SmackDown without any explanation for how or why they got there. In fact, some of the moves are relatively convoluted considering the performers are involved in matches against competitors on their prior brand, rivalries WWE could have ended at WrestleMania 33 but for some reason chose not to.

Bray Wyatt, the No. 1 contender for the WWE championship (a SmackDown title), moved to Raw but will still face champion Randy Orton for the strap at Payback, a Raw pay-per-view. No mention has been made of what will happen if Wyatt wins the “House of Horrors” match.

Kevin Owens, the United States champion, took the belt from Raw to SmackDown (as Dean Ambrose did in reverse with the intercontinental title) but is still scheduled to defend the belt at Payback in a rematch against Chris Jericho, who remains on Raw. At least WWE clarified that Jericho would move to SmackDown should he regain the championship.

What WWE does from here is anyone’s guess. Wyatt beating Orton could take a world title away from SmackDown, but Orton beating Wyatt in the challenger’s signature match (no details provided at this time) would be another massive blow to Wyatt, who always loses big matches, particularly at pay-per-views.

OK, enough bloviating. Here are the new SmackDown and Raw superstars.

New SmackDown superstars

United States champion Kevin Owens: General manager Daniel Bryan announced that Owens would still defend the title against Chris Jericho at the Raw pay-per-view Payback with Jericho joining SmackDown should he win the championship back.

Charlotte Flair: The expected swap with Alexa Bliss was completed Tuesday. Charlotte should be a great addition to the SmackDown brand as she’ll work great with the other women. Bliss really fits in with the Raw group. However, the announcement lacked the excitement it should have generated.

The New Day: Announced in a video package as “coming soon.”

Sami Zayn: SmackDown always made the most sense for Zayn, and now that it’s happened along with the Owens move, it’s an even more natural fit.

Rusev: He did not appear on the show, but his move was announced during the program. Considering he basically disappeared on Raw, Rusev should have an opportunity to be featured on his new home.

Lana: Receiving her own announcement separate from Rusev, Lana was packaged in a dress modeling in a chair at the top of the stage. It was noted that she would be “coming soon” to SmackDown, indicating she would not be on the show next week with Rusev.

Sin Cara: So they moved Kalisto for Sin Cara?

Jinder Mahal: Switched brands to job to Mojo Rawley.

The Shining Stars: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Tamina Snuka: Perhaps this was just a swerve for Flair, but if not, still meaningless.

Byron Saxton: He was on the broadcast for a full hour before the announcement, and I didn’t even notice.

New Raw superstars

Bray Wyatt: As the No. 1 contender for the WWE title (contested on SmackDown), he will still fight champion Randy Orton for the title in a “House of Horrors” match at the Raw pay-per-view Payback in three weeks.

Intercontinental champion Dean Ambrose: Raw added Ambrose and what was long the company’s No. 2 title on Monday in what winds up looking like a swap for Owens.

Alexa Bliss: As mentioned above, Bliss fits in well with the women on Raw. The rumored swap of her and Flair was obviously completed.

The Miz & Maryse: The couple actually opened Raw still impersonating John Cena and Nikki Bella only to be interrupted by Ambrose.

Mickie James: Thought WWE might switch over Carmella to reunite with Enzo Amore & Big Cass. Nope.

Kalisto: Will be interesting to see if WWE moves him into the cruiserweight division.

Apollo Crews: Though SmackDown was supposed to be the show of opportunity, he never got one, in large part due to his lack of character and mic work.

Heath Slater & Rhyno: Basically an irrelevant switch, but if SmackDown gets a more solid tag team in return, that would be a win.

Curt Hawkins: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

David Otunga: He was not announced Monday on Raw and wound up being swapped for Saxton, who called both shows this week.

Elias Samson (via NXT): Raw added The Revival from NXT last Monday, and though this was not part of the “Superstar Shakeup,” Samson did walk out Monday on Raw with his guitar.

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